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THE MUSE

The Casting

After completing the screenplay for The Muse with longtime screenwriting collaborator Monica Johnson, Brooks set out to make his movie. He would once again be working both in front of behind the camera, as director and star.

First, though, he had to find his Muse. One actress came to mind immediately. Brooks recalls, "I said I wanted Sharon Stone. People told me, 'She's never done a comedy before.'" In fact, one of Stone's earliest screen roles was in a comedy (Irreconcilable Differences), and the actress had long wanted to do another one.

Determined to make Stone his Muse, Brooks called her up, even though the two had only met in passing. Stone remembers, "Albert started telling me about the movie. I thought, 'He probably just wants me to do a walk-on.' As he's describing the movie to me, I'm thinking, 'This sounds really good!'"

Brooks says, "After I described it to her, I asked her if she would play the part. There was, like, a 5-second pause, and she said, 'I'll be your Muse.'"

Stone had accepted the role without reading the script first. While Brooks suggested that she might want to see the script before committing, Stone "told him I didn't need to read it. The idea was so fantastic, that this character who could be the daughter of Zeus could inspire people and be sort of a bit obnoxious in the process...well, it was too wonderful a part to pass up! I couldn't imagine anything better happening to my career than getting to do this movie."

Having landed his Muse by phone, Brooks decided to try the same approach to get his (on-screen) wife: "I called Andie MacDowell at home, and described the movie to her. Like Sharon, she committed over the phone."

MacDowell remembers, "Getting the call from Albert was one of those rare gifts you dream about."

Elated with the responses he'd gotten so far, Brooks went for a hat trick by phoning Jeff Bridges to ask him to play Jack, Steven's enviably successful screenwriter friend. This call proved to be a little tougher, notes Brooks, because "I knew Jeff had never really taken a smaller role before, and, speaking as an actor who does smaller parts in other people's movies, it's fun. Although his role is not the lead, I needed someone of stature to play it, because he introduces The Muse to the audience."

Brooks says, "I reminded Jeff, 'You know, Jack Nicholson does it. You're missing out on a good time. There's no pressure.' He decided it was exactly what he was looking for." Bridges, like Stone and MacDowell before him, had committed to the project while on the phone with Brooks, without having read the script.

Brooks reflects, "When you have finished filming a movie, and people come up to you and say, 'I couldn't have imagined anyone else playing that role,' then you know you've cast a movie correctly. That's what happened with The Muse."

And all it took was a few well-timed phone calls.

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